February 28, 2024

Sunrise 2024 Movie Review

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Sunrise 2024 Movie Review

I’m an unapologetic Guy Pearce fan. I make no bones about it. I stand by my long held assertion that he is one of the more underrated and undervalued actors working today. Throughout his nearly 35-year career, Pearce has made a name for himself playing an assortment of heroes, drifters, historical figures, and police detectives, just to name a few. And less you forget, he can also play a really good villain.

He gets to go full antagonist in the new film “Sunrise” from director Andrew Baird. While Pearce does a good job portraying a character that you’ll find easy to detest, the movie as a whole isn’t nearly as successful. “Sunrise” is a slow and messy hodgepodge of interesting ideas that never gel into anything worthwhile. The script (penned by Ronan Blaney) has enough ingredients for three or four different movies. But corralling them into one proves to be too much.

The film opens with some title cards telling us about a “sacred” forest demon in the Pacific Northwest. It’s said to have the power to grant eternal life but it be feeds on the blood of its victims to maintain that power. We’re told that animal sacrifices to the demon date back hundreds of years to the First Nations, but over time the sacrifices offered became bigger. As the mythology grew the demon became known as Red Coat.

Now that sounds like an ominous setup to a potentially creepy supernatural horror movie. Well, not exactly. As it turns out, reading those title cards is the scariest thing in “Sunrise” and the ‘demon’ is so poorly developed that it feels like an afterthought. Instead the movie spends its time hopping between genres. Sometimes it plays like a rural crime thriller. Other times it wants to be a thoughtful family drama. One minute you think you’re watching a vampire movie. The next minute you’re getting a heavy-handed critique of the American dream. If only they came together in an entertaining way.

In a small blue-collar town nestled in the mountains, a vile, greedy and unashamedly racist local business named Joe Reynolds (Pearce) has his eye on a patch of land owned by an Asian American man named Loi. In a fit of anger, Reynolds murders Loi for refusing to sign over the land rights. He then has his goons dispose of the body, leaving Loi’s wife Yan (Crystal Yu), son Edward (William Gao), and young daughter Emily (Riley Chung) not knowing what happened to their husband and father.

Three months pass and Reynolds is still pressuring the family to leave town. His numerous threats quickly evolve into violence which Yan stands up to the best she can. But then out of the blue a sickly man named Fallon (Alex Pettyfer) stumbles onto their property in the dead of night, barely able to walk and with labored breathing. Yan decides to take him in and nurse him back to health without much thought at all. Fallon is quiet but seems appreciative. He even runs off one of Reynolds’ goons who tries to stir up trouble.

But there is something weird about Fallon. He’s not into personal hygiene. He actively dodges the sunlight. Oh, and there’s the whole “I need blood” request. All signs seem to indicate that he is a (gulp) vampire. But as with so many other things, the movie doesn’t do much with it. Its attention is quickly diverted elsewhere.

Baird tries to add some backstory and depth through constant flashbacks to ten years earlier. Unfortunately these scenes do more to convolute things that offer any compelling layers or revelation. It’s a shame because there are some good pieces here including the ruggedly immersive setting and a seemingly able cast. But the overstuffed story proves to be too much to manage. And despite its ambition, we’re left with big ideas that never get the attention they need. “Sunrise” opens January 19th in select theaters and on VOD.

Sunrise 2024 Movie Review